Every day, hundreds of people ponder and worry about how they will be remembered. Their concerns don’t stop at their loved ones and friends – but how they will be remembered in the world of business as well.
In other words, your legacy. How well (or negatively) you affected people – even after you’re gone. Ideally, the goal is to leave behind a positive legacy. What you do now will have a direct impact on how you are remembered.
A leadership legacy is an active and enduring change created by an individual. As a leader, you want to leave something of enduring quality behind – something that will help both the company and the people.
A leadership legacy can be something as grand as creating sweeping change throughout the organization. It can be that you trained hundreds of employees, and your training still carries on.
Likewise, a leadership legacy can be something smaller. Chief Learning Officer lists several examples, including an employee leaving behind a workflow journal and a manager creating process improvement.
Behaviors for a Positive Legacy
According to ISE Mag, leaders who leave behind a positive legacy are more likely to have five specific behaviors. While there are certainly other behaviors to take into consideration, these rank the highest. They are character, attitude, vision, excellence, and relationship. Every behavior is linked to trust, empathy, and the ability to create lasting (and memorable) relationships.
Reaping What You Sow
The phrase “reaping what you sow” comes to mind when considering a legacy. The actions you take now will have an impact on how you are remembered. Take Alfred Nobel. Nobel worked at a Swedish arms manufacturer, and for a time, he was most famous for inventing dynamite. That is until he created the Nobel Peace Prize. This move was meant to payback for all the pain he caused while also altering the legacy he left behind. It worked.
Ken Blanchard puts it more simply in Your Leadership Legacy: “The legacy you live is the legacy you leave.” It is that simple. Think about your daily actions and how they might impact the people around you. Now, think about how those actions add up over time – you’ll start to see the big picture soon enough.
Improving Your Leadership Legacy
Alfred Novel proves that there is no such thing as too late when it comes to improving your legacy. There are dozens of changes – small and large – that can be made that will have a positive impact.
Don Markland suggests two things to practice to start making immediate progress. The first step includes creating and continuing one-on-one interactions. Hold them with your superiors – but more importantly – hold them with your immediate reports as well. It’s not just about going through the motions either. When attending these meetings, be mentally present. Listen and provide feedback, form a relationship.
The second step Markland recommends is similar to the first; conducting skip-level meetings. That is to say, don’t ignore those that are a level (or two) below you. Take the time to listen and learn from them as well. Provide teaching moments, and leave room for memories and relationships to form.